Butcher Babies’ Carla Harvey Reveals ‘Death & Other Dances’ Book Excerpt [Exclusive]
Butcher Babies' co-vocalist Carla Harvey is becoming a double threat in the entertainment industry. Not only can she rock a stage with her band, but she's also just ventured into the book world with her first novel, 'Death & Other Dances' (available at Amazon).
According to the synopsis of the book, which Harvey calls a “raw, graphic work of creative nonfiction,” the story centers on Autumn Franklin, an awkward, biracial girl growing up in a suburb of Detroit. While struggling to connect with others, Autumn builds a stubborn tenacity that serves her well as she transitions from the bowels of the adult entertainment industry to her rebirth as a mortician. It’s there that she learns what it is to live, love and to allow others into her world.
Here, Loudwire exclusively brings you an excerpt from 'Death & Other Dances.' The following passage is Chapter 7 in its entirety:
7. The Natural
“I’d like to get a job here,” I said to the worn, dishwater-blonde woman behind the counter of an entrance booth lined in blinking Christmas lights.
“How old are you?” She raised an eyebrow at me.
“Eighteen!” I smiled and shoved my ID into her hand. A faint smell of mold and bar rot was in the air. My friend Christina, along for moral support, giggled as the woman eyed me.
I was seven years old when I’d first decided I wanted to be a stripper. Pre-separation, my parents had left us with our Aunty Denise for a week while they vacationed in Las Vegas. When they came back, they brought with them a Barbie doll-sized showgirl for me, mounted on a platform. She was dressed in a black sequined unitard with black feathers artfully positioned in her perfectly-coiffed blonde hair. Her lips were pouty, her eyelids painted electric blue. I fell in love with her immediately. Many hours were spent studying the doll; her shiny plastic limbs, lumps of breasts, flawless face stuck in a coquettish expression. She represented everything that I wanted to be and was not: A beauty queen as well as a tiny temptress on a pedestal. I was just a chubby, buck-toothed kid that got in the way of my parents’ burgeoning arguments.
In my room, I became my own tiny showgirl with the spotlight on me. I danced just the way I thought she would, thrusting my hips this way and that. I daydreamed that my parents would look in on me, see me dancing, and remember how wonderful I was. They would tell their friends. Maybe they would even take me to Vegas the next time, too, and I’d dance in one of those fancy shows.
They never looked in on me.
Not long after I got my doll, the phenomenon of hair metal was just getting under way. In a few years I’d hear Mötley Crüe’s "Girls, Girls, Girls" on the radio, see the video, and be enticed to perform a two-step in the privacy of my yellow pre-teen bedroom. Yes. This is what men wanted. Fast women in heels and lots of makeup. They loved them so much that they stuck them on pedestals and sold them in souvenir shops in Las Vegas.
Finally, I was old enough to become a public object of desire.
“Well, you’ll have to audition,” the woman said, blowing smoke from the corner of her mouth past my face. “Just because you’re cute doesn’t mean you don’t have to audition like everyone else.”
I peered around behind her. It was midday and the bar was almost empty.
“Okay, what do I have to do?” I asked. She pointed a fat, French-manicured nail towards a podium in the corner.
“Go see DJ Mark, pick out a song. Dressing room is in the back. You did bring costumes, right?”
“I... I don’t have any yet,” I replied, nervously kicking my motorcycle boot against the booth.
“Well, you got a bra and panties on, dontcha?”
I did, and I was grateful that both were fairly clean.
DJ Mark was like a sweatier version of All in the Family’s Meathead. He looked bored and beaten down by life but when he spoke over the microphone his voice was wet with excitement. “Coming up on stage one we’ve got BRANDY! And on stage two, SLOOPY!”
I turned to see what the excitement was all about. “Brandy” was a chubby brunette who lacked rhythm and “Sloopy” looked like it was time for a retirement party.
“Dude, she has no tits!” Christina whispered.
I was ecstatic. I didn’t have any tits either.
“What are you calling yourself? What’s your stage name?” DJ Mark chewed his gum, disinterested in the new girl in front of him. What a concept, to be able to name yourself! To be able to define yourself in one word and escape the mundaneness of the name you were born into. Oh, the possibilities!
And… I couldn’t think of a thing.
“Rio,” I blurted out. “Like the Duran Duran song.” I didn’t even like Duran Duran. I also needed to pick a song. Mark had an ample collection of rock ‘n roll and I chose Gun N' Roses’, “Welcome to the Jungle” as my first strip song.
There I was, 18 years old, in a worn-out bra, panties, and motorcycle boots, making my way to center stage at Henry the Eighth’s at two o' clock in the afternoon on a Wednesday. All eyes were on me as I stepped onto the stage. I was fresh meat. They could smell it. The day girls cut their eyes on me as the autoworkers on their lunch breaks whistled. Dishwater’s cigarette dangled from her lips as she watched.
I walked up the steps leading to the stage with my hands trembling. My legs felt like they might buckle. There was no pole on the stage… wasn’t there supposed to be a pole to hang on to? As the music started, something happened to me. I felt infinite. For the first time, I really didn’t care what anybody thought of me. Spinning around in my motorcycle boots, I was finally free. I danced way too fast, more music video than strip club, but I felt fabulous. I got down on my knees and flipped my hair backwards, then crawled across the stage. By the final notes of “Welcome to the Jungle” at least twelve crumpled dollars lined my stage. Gas money! I hopped off stage and went back to the DJ booth where Mark and Dishwater were conspiring.
“So, you haven’t ever danced before?” he asked.
“No.” I shrugged my shoulders. Had I been awful?
“Well, I guess that makes you a natural born stripper.” He winked at me.
That was the best thing that I had ever heard.
“If you want to work tonight be back at eight,” Dishwater said.
“And don’t call me ma'am. I work for a living!”
It seemed like eight o’clock would never come. I felt my life was about to begin in that bar and every second I sat on my parents’ couch was a second that I could be making money. As I stepped through the doors to Henry’s at 7:55, Dishwater was still on her stool chain smoking, but this time she smiled at me as I handed her my twenty-dollar shift fee.
The night girls weren’t as easy to get along with as the day girls who stared but were too weary to lament much over my presence. As I made my way to the closet-sized changing room, strippers in various shades of undress flashed me looks of death.
“You have to fucking wait, there’s no goddamn room in here!”
“Change in the bathroom, you idiot!”
“Close the door, my fucking pussy is hanging out!”
Feeling traumatized within the first five minutes of my shift, I retreated to the bathroom, a two-stall (one with no door) filth garden with a cracked mirror. Two older women, Kat and Shawnee, were in there getting ready as well. Kat was the first person I’d ever seen with fake breasts—after all, it was Detroit. They were lopsided and the left one had a strange indent. Deep red horizontal scars marked the folds of each breast. Nevertheless, being about as flat-chested as one could possibly be, I was quite taken by them.
I quickly changed into my outfit for the evening—a green day-glow bikini and my trusty black motorcycle boots. The other girls looked like pros in their sparkly costumes, heels, makeup, and wigs, but I had naïveté and youth on my side.
I wandered around on the floor of the club, not quite sure what to do with myself. Dancing on stage and flashing my tits at an eager crowd of factory workers was the easy part. Chatting them up and getting them to commit to a lap dance or two was the challenge. All around me, the other girls threw themselves on customers’ laps, feigning interest in the most hideous of men. They talked loudly, threw back their heads and laughed at the jokes the men told, stroked their faces and egos, and if they got further, their cocks in the lap dance room. I was shy. I rarely talked to anyone face-to-face. How was I going to do this?
“You going to just stand there all night?” An Indian man remarked, noting my look of terror.
“It’s my first night, I really don’t know what to do,” I replied.
It turned out that telling an avid strip-club-goer that it’s your first night as a peeler is like telling a frat boy you’re a virgin. The man’s eyes popped at the prospect of being the recipient of my first professional lap dance ever.
He grabbed my hand and led me to a private room off the DJ booth that housed ten chairs—five on one side of the wall, five on the other. I looked around me to see what the other girls were doing. They mounted their customers, frontwards and backwards, rubbing their crotches and ass cheeks on the men’s laps in simulated lovemaking motions. One girl was on her knees, breasts sandwiched between her customer’s thighs, as the man’s eyes rolled back in ecstasy. I noticed that every girl had her own pace. Some were like jack rabbits, and their customers gripped their chairs for dear life as the girls bounced up and down on top of them. Others were slow and sensual.
“What are you looking at, bitch?” a hard-looking brunette in black vinyl snapped at me.
I averted my eyes and turned to face my customer, deciding to go the slow, sensual route. I peeled off my bikini top and grazed his cheeks with my breasts, then mounted him front ways and began to grind my crotch against his jeans. His cock stiffened and a wave of repulsion surged through me. I tried to stand, but he grabbed my hips and held me down against his cock. Twenty dollars a song, I repeated in my head, twenty dollars a song…
I got five dances from Basil, which warmed me up for the rest of the crowd. Over the course of the evening I grew accustomed to the feeling of grinding against a stranger’s erect, clothed penis. It was easier if I mounted them backwards so that I didn’t have to look at their faces. I convinced myself it was just like junior high dry-humping.
After work I was sweaty and tired but exuberant. I drove over to the gas station where Christina worked the midnight shift.
“How was it?” she screeched. “Tell me everything!”
I walked over to her nonchalantly and threw my sweaty wads of cash from the evening into the air. We giggled and scrambled for it on the floor, unraveling the crumpled bills and counting them out.
“One hundred and eighty dollars!” I said triumphantly. It might not have been much by stripper standards, but it was more than either of us could make in a whole week at the gas station back then.
“When are you going back?” Christina asked. We both knew I was hooked.
If that's grabbed your attention, be sure to pick up Carla's Harvey's 'Death & Other Dances,' which is currently available at Amazon. You can also get your hands on an autographed copy at this location. Look for Carla Harvey returning to the stage this fall as Butcher Babies will hit the road with Black Label Society beginning Sept. 12 in Reno, Nev. Dates can be found here.